Gary Lineker claims BBC gave him PERMISSION to give views on migrant crisis as he calls Nazi tweet row 'silly'

Gary Lineker smiling

Gary Lineker has said he was moved to tears when Match of the Day colleagues boycotted the show in solidarity with him.

Paige Creaney

By Paige Creaney

Published: 27/03/2023

- 12:22

The Match of the Day presenter was suspended after comparing Government language to "like 30s Germany"

Gary Lineker has revealed that he and BBC Director General Tim Davie had a "deal" that he could post about refugees and climate change.

It comes after the Match of the Day presenter was suspended from the BBC for saying the Government's new asylum policy was "immeasurably cruel" and language used was "not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s".

Speaking on the ordeal, Lineker said he was not bothered that people reacted the way they did, because he initially feared some other scandal or terrible news had broken.

"There was the policy, which I kind of, when they spelled it, I thought 'come on you're going to send people to a country where perhaps they don't want to go, I don't think this is going to work, is it going to be legal?' We all recognise this is a massive problem.

Close up of Tim Davie

Gary Lineker claims he had talks with Tim Davie before starting at the BBC over voicing his opinions


"Then somebody replied, it was kind of an aggressive response. What I did was reply to them and at the end of it I added the line 'some of the language used is not dissimilar to that used in the early thirties in Germany', which was never meant as any kind of comparison with the Holocaust or anything like that."

Speaking to The Rest is Politics podcast, he spoke of how the morning after the tweet unfolded.

He said: "I wake up in the morning, looked at my phone. It's got 237 WhatsApp messages. I thought either it's some kind of scandal or has something happened to one of my kids."

Lineker went on to recall the realisation his tweet had hit the headlines: "I just went oh, thank god for that, that's all it is. I don't mind that.

"'It didn't bother me, I was ok. And it kind of spiralled silly-ly out of control".

Speaking of the deal he had with Tim Davie, Lineker said when he first met the Director General, the pair agreed that he would continue to be allowed to speak up on the refugee crisis and climate change despite the BBC's social media guidelines.

He said: "Obviously these things will be linked to politics. So all my argument here was let's have some empathy towards these poor people that are forced to flee persecution and war.

"Would I do it differently now? Probably after the furore that it's caused. But I think that it's true and factual so I don't think impartiality comes into it" he said.

"I never contemplated it would be an issue at all."

Gary Lineker tweet

The tweet that that led to staff walkouts at the BBC after the corporation's decision to take the MOTD host off air

@GaryLineker Twitter

Lineker went on to describe the outpouring of support for him afterwards, saying it was "beautiful".

"It was funny. Ian Wright pulled out of the show, and then when Alan [Shearer] did as well, I must admit I had a tear in my eye," he said.

"To get that kind of team spirit, that kind of camaraderie and togetherness, I mean it just moved me. It was beautiful."

The presenter was reinstated three days after his suspension pending a review on existing social media guidance for freelancers.

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